It Is No Longer 1959: The Struggle Now is to Save the Species — comments by Fidel Castro

[Appearing on the 51st anniversary of the Cuban revolution’s victory, this statement reveals a cogent analysis of some major differences between then and now. Far from saying we need to replicate the Cuban revolution throughout the world, Fidel Castro points out how perilously close to thin ice we are skating. A new understanding is needed, and it is useful to understand that we can’t rely on Democrats any more than we could on Republicans to achieve that understanding and the necessary action to follow.  — Lew Rosenbaum]

Fidel Castro: The struggle now is to save our species

Rebel army enters Havana, January 1, 1959.

By Fidel Castro

January 3, 2010 — As the Cuban Revolution celebrated its 51st anniversary two days ago, memories of that January 1, 1959, came to mind. The outlandish idea that, after half a century — which flew by — we would remember it as if it were yesterday, never occurred to any of us.

During the meeting at the Oriente sugar mill on December 28, 1958, with the commander in chief of the enemy’s forces, whose elite units were surrounded without any way out whatsoever, the commander admitted defeat and appealed to our generosity to find a dignified way out for the rest of his forces. He knew of our humane treatment of prisoners and the injured without any exception. He accepted the agreement that I proposed, although I warned him that operations under way would continue. But he travelled to the capital, and, incited by the United States embassy, instigated a coup d’état.

We were preparing for combat on that January 1 when, in the early hours of the morning, the news came in of the dictator’s flight. The Rebel Army was ordered not to permit a ceasefire and to continue battling on all fronts. Radio Rebelde called on workers to launch a revolutionary general strike, immediately followed by the entire nation. The coup attempt was defeated, and that same afternoon, our victorious troops entered Santiago de Cuba.

Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos received instructions to advance rapidly by road in motor vehicles with their battle-hardened forces toward La Cabaña and the Columbia military camp. The enemy army, hit hard on all fronts, was unable to resist. The people in arms themselves took over the centres of repression and police stations. In the afternoon of January 2 at a stadium in Bayamo, and accompanied by a small escort, I met with more than 2000 soldiers from the tank, artillery and motorised infantry units, against whom we had been fighting until the day before. They were still carrying their weapons. We had won the enemy’s respect with our audacious but humanitarian methods of irregular warfare. This was how, in just four days — after 25 months of war that we reinitiated with a few guns — some 100,000 air, sea and ground weapons and the entire power of the state remained in the hands of the Cuban Revolution. In just a few lines, I am recounting everything that happened during those days 51 years ago.

Battle to save our species

Then the main battle began: to preserve Cuba’s independence against the most powerful empire that has ever existed, a battle which our people waged with great dignity. I am happy today to observe those who, in the face of incredible obstacles, sacrifices and risks, were able to defend our homeland, and who today, together with their children, parents and loved ones, are enjoying the happiness and glories of each new year.

Today, however, is nothing like yesterday. We experience a new era unlike any other in history. Before, the people fought and are fighting still, with honour, for a better and more just world, but now they are also having to fight, without any alternative whatsoever, for the very survival of our species. If we ignore this, we know absolutely nothing.

Cuba is, without question, one of the most politically educated countries on the planet; it started out from the most shameful illiteracy, and what is worse, our yankee masters and the bourgeoisie associated with the foreign owners of land, sugar mills, [click here to read the entire article]

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